Thursday, December 6, 2012

Book Review: The Condition

I took this book with me to Hawaii even though the hard cover version took up most of my carry-on space. Luckily, I was not disappointed. This is the best book I've read all year.

Jennifer Haigh's novel is a family saga that reads like a post-mortem. With alternating narration, each of the five family members give their perspective on what led to the family's demise and current state. The novel's title, The Condition, seems to refer specifically to one child in the family who has been diagnosed with a rare medical condition called Turner's Syndrome. But throughout the book, it becomes clear that each family member has developed their own "condition" or way of existing that is just as much a part of their identity.

One of the most remarkable things about this book is how completely I fell in love with each character. In fact, while reading a chapter from the daughter's perspective, I could see her mother as a villain and still fall in love with the mother in the following chapter from her perspective. Somehow, I was able to see both sides without feeling inconsistent.

This was exactly the kind of book I like to read and it managed to be very easy to relate to in spite of what may seem like a too-specific story-line. The weird thing is that I sometimes felt like I was reading about my own family, even though absolutely none of the external details are the same. It's the feeling she captures so brilliantly.

I am especially excited that I found a new (to me) author whose books I can now devour!

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